I looked down at the notecard where on our first day of working together she made me write “I can do it, and I can do it well.” I said it again with a little more gusto, but honestly, I wouldn’t come to believe it until much later. I was frustrated. Stuck.
I was a senior in college and a theater minor who at the “I-believe-in-you” prompting of another director was birddogged into performing a two-hour, one-woman theatrical production. One-woman means “all by yo self.” In front of 250 people. No notes. No net. Fully vulnerable. Rehearsal set for six full weeks directed by a talented woman who I both respected greatly and who kinda terrified me. Scary.
Now, I was up for acting the role of this historical character, Zelda Fitzgerald, who was a tragic mix of wit, triumph and mental insanity. But the short parts where I had to sing? And ballet dance? And knit!? I was totally in the red on how to even fake any of that well, and trying to learn it had me a wreck. “I can’t get it!”
I wanted to quit just about as much as I wanted to succeed. But I couldn’t. But I wanted to. But I didn’t. It was one of the best early lessons of my life that I can do hard things.
As Christ-followers, (well, as Americans), what is it that makes us so prone to frustration when things get a bit hard? Weren’t we made to do hard things? Yet I’ve had to fight this. I still fight it maybe a little every day. “God, rescue me, relieve me, fix this… God, why are you doing this to me… I can’t do this… It’s not fair… I’m just gonna quit… Will it ever get better?…” Frustrated. And instead of believing we can do hard things, we are enticed to numb or run from our discomfort.
We have become the most in-debt, overweight, addicted, and medicated adult population in U.S. history in part because we don’t believe we can do hard things, and that we can do them well. Jesus said, “…in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you will have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” (John 16:33, Amplified).
Jesus has deprived the world of the power to harm me, and has conquered it for me? I just say, “Okay, how do I get me a whole lot of that, Jesus?” Despite trauma, despite marital problems, despite parenting issues, despite financial struggles, despite sickness and depression, despite grief and loss and disappointment—if we get in Christ, we know because He conquered, we get to win.
How do you and I go about living differently if we come to believe that there is not one problem we face—and we’ll still face them—that doesn’t come with the gifts of His promise and His provision to walk through it. But I’ve learned that promise and provision will stop dead in their tracks to get to you if you don’t first surrender your frustration—and your contingency plan to quit.
God works to partner with a “can-do” spirit. That is our offering, and often our sacrifice. As James 1:25 says, “Whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—…and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.”